A Sight on European Defence

Here and there I can read that the Washington Treaty, creating the Atlantic Alliance, article 5, has inspired the solidarity clause, article 222 of Lisbon Treaty. Personally I would rather refer to the Brussels Treaty, creating the Western European Union, which is in fact much more demanding than the Washington Treaty.

Here are the different articles:

Lisbon Treaty, article 222:

“The Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster. The Union shall mobilise all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the Member States (…)”.

Washington Treaty, article 5:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area “.

Brussels Treaty (modified), article 5:

“If any of the High Contracting Parties should be the object of an armed attack in Europe, the other High Contracting Parties will, in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, afford the Party so attacked all the military and other aid and assistance in their power”.

The main difference lays in the assets made available by the contracting party if an ally is attacked: in both cases of Brussels and Lisbon, all the possible support will be provided, whereas the Treaty of Washington, the support will only be “as it deems necessary”. Clearly both treaties of Brussels and Lisbon demand a greater level of commitment from the contracting parties.

And so what?

While NATO, less demanding than WEU, has developed and been able to run operations far beyond its borders, the WEU could never develop and play the role assigned to the organization. Then I would say that the words and the text are only a vehicle for political will, that will, or not, elaborate on the Treaty and explore the path to make it grow and become active, or not.

In a few words: the value of the solidarity clause is not what is written, but what our Nations want to make out of the idea.

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